In 1963, Civil Rights protests became increasingly confrontational as Birmingham, Alabama's police commissioner, Eugene "Bull" Connor, crushed a nonviolent protest with extreme force. In June 1963, Alabama Gov. George Wallace refused to allow two black students to enter the University of Alabama forcing President Kennedy to use the National Guard to ensure the safety of the students.
On June 11, President Kennedy made the decision to give a televised evening speech announcing his civil rights bill proposal. Although Kennedy delivered part of the talk extemporaneously, it was one of his best speeches--a heartfelt appeal in behalf of a moral cause that included several memorable lines calling upon the country to honor its finest traditions.
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